I have a lot of opinions. I mean a lot of opinions. While undoubtedly quieter than the average person with my genetics and personality, I have a lot to say. There is something I’d like to say about just about anything if given the chance. But just like you, I have to filter when it is worth it to say something. Filters come in varying sizes and shapes. Some filter coffee, and some filter sediments. Some filter gas, and some filter web results.
Preparing to start Beloved Church, I’ve entered a new environment that is enormous and vastly unlike the environment I was previously in, and I have found myself in a deep struggle. My personality, and an honest effort at being humble in a place where I am supposed to learn from others ahead of me, drive me to even more awkward quietness than is usual for me. It’s so pronounced that one of the guys around a lot gives me challenges like a quota of conversations to have in a particular environment.
I find it amusing as I analyze how he must view me and every social setting he has encountered me in. Along with the amusement, it brings me concern. I can explain away most of his concerns in light of my commitment to humbly listening and learning as I believe Jesus has instructed me to, but it really doesn’t end there if I am honest.
I am impressed by what’s around me. And I’m not impressive. There are incredibly accomplished communicators around me producing content with ease. And I have to wrestle for hours and hours to write blogs and craft sermons. The level of accomplishment surrounding me is awe-inspiring. And I am a 31-year-old that walked away from a solid position and income to start something that is guaranteed to come with great difficulty and cost.
That is my confession, but my confession must go further. The real concern is that it is not a humble or low view of myself, but rather too high a view of myself behind all of this. I am often quiet in new environments because I am terrified I won’t measure up to what’s around me. This is pride. As Jon Bloom once wrote, “it’s largely due to thinking more highly of myself than I ought to think and wanting others to admire me more than I deserve. My shame comes from an exaggeratedly high self-image that feels exposed by my limitations, weaknesses, and sins, making living with or fighting them much more burdensome than necessary.”
So, in light of so many proverbs and commands in Scripture to talk less and listen more, what will be my filter for when to speak? What will be the filter for Beloved Church on when to speak up? As Paul said under the inspiration of the Spirit, we have something to say when we are “speaking the truth in love,” and “only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:15, 29, CSB). The gospel of grace humbles us and addresses our pride. It’s grace—meaning we could never earn or deserve the favor of God. But He gives it to us freely! My confidence cannot be in myself, but in Christ!
We have something to say. We have the message of God’s love necessary for the hope, rescue, and redemption of this world! In spite of my awkward quietness, I hope to always speak up when it’s going to be in love. So, we’ll always speak the invitation of Beloved: Here you can belong, here you can be known, and here you can be loved—all because of the love God has for us as revealed in Jesus!